Historical information

This Post Office Receiving Pillar was restored in 1980 and is now a fully operational Australia Post mailbox.

In early August 1980 Prime Minister Mr. Fraser posted Warrnambool’s first commemorative envelope into this restored Post Office Receiving Pillar at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village. The special limited edition envelopes are numbered 1 – 7000. When posted, the envelopes would have the Flagstaff Hill Logo and Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village’s own postmark of a ship’s steering wheel surrounding a lighthouse and a sailing ship, and were dated August 3 on the First Day Cover.

Amongst Flagstaff Hill’s collection is that very first letter posted by Prime Minister Fraser.

In 1851 ‘pillar boxes’ were installed at roadside locations in the island of Jersey, England; they had already been successful in several European countries. The use of new prepaid, adhesive postage stamps as well as the roadside pillar boxes meant there was no need for the public to take a trip to the Post Office just to post a letter. By 1855 London had installed its first six Pillar Boxes.
In 1856 the pillar boxes were first introduced in Sydney. These were circular with a crown on the dome, supported by leaves.
Early Victoria

Mail was originally collected by ‘letter carriers’, first appointed in Melbourne in 1841, equipped with leather bag and hand bell. He wore a red coat with brass buttons and a black top hat!

In 1844 two wooden receiving boxes were erected in Melbourne.

The first cast iron boxes were installed in South Melbourne (Emerald Hill) and were still in service until 1967. They were a fluted circular design and made in England.

In the early 1860’s the ‘low door round’ design posting box was introduced, being circular and surrounded by a crown, with two broad embossed bands around its circumference. The clearance door was in front of the box and low down. These were made in Australia.
In the early 1870’s square boxes with a tapering top were being used. These too were made in Australia by different manufacturers with slight variations on style such as the orientation and number of slots.

Next came the circular boxes again, similar to the ‘low door round’ but with the clearance door extending to just below the posting slot, often referred to as ‘high door round’. These boxes did not have embossed bands.

In 1887 small cast iron boxes were introduced, attached to posts and poles and called ‘lamp post receivers’.
Around 1930 a ‘London’ model was used in Victoria. It was copied from the flat-domed type in London but made in Tasmania.

[References: Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village records, The Warrnambool Standard, August 1st, 1980, “Stamps.Au” http://www.stampsau.com, 4th April 2011 (Extracted from “Australian Street Posting Boxes” by Ken Sparks – out of print)]

Physical description

Post Office Receiving Pillar, or letterbox.1885 “High Door Round” design. Tall cast iron cylinder with decorative dome cap with crown on top. Side has a slot and a hinged door with handle shaped as a fist. Painted red with gold trim. “POST OFFICE / RECEIVING PILLAR” lettering cast into cylinder. Restored in 1980 and once again operating as an Australia Post mailbox. Commemorative plague on pillar.

Inscriptions & markings

“POST OFFICE / RECEIVING PILLAR” lettering cast into cylinder.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum – Port of Warrnambool. This letter receiver was officially commissioned on 3rd August 1980 by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Honourable Malcolm Fraser M.P. on completion of 25 years’ service as the Federal Minister for Wannon.”